In the heart of Grigna in Valsassina
Discovering the Cortabbio Mines in Primaluna
The Cortabbio Mines of Primaluna in Valsassina are a casket in the bowels of Grigna and Leonardo da Vinci himself realized how precious these lands were, in fact in the Atlantic Codex he wrote “the buildings of the copper and silver vein, near a land called Pra Sancto Petro and veins of iron and fantastic things “.
The mines are located in the village of Cortabbio, part of the municipality of Primaluna, and began to be productive in the mid-nineteenth century after the discovery of its vein in a totally unexpected way. In fact Mr. Vanotti, a praimary school teacher, during a walk in the woods, noticed an outcrop of white rocks different from the others, he detached some small pieces that he analyzed in Milan and it was discovered that it was Barite. Since then the mining activity started in the mines and lasted to a few years ago (2012), reaching the peak of higher productivity in the first half of the twentieth century.
What was extracted from the Mines of Cortabbio?
- Barite or Barium Solfate
- Appearance: tabular form, squat prismatic, rhombic. It can also form lamellar (usually flaky) aggregates and, rarely, fibrosis
- Color: generally white or colorless, it can also present various shades of red, yellowish and greenish
- Shine: from vitreous to pearly
- Transparency: from translucent to transparent
Nowadays the Cortabbio mines are an interesting mining park to explore and learn about the richness of our mountains, the industrial past of our ancestors who made Lecco the city of iron.
The Cortabbio mines offer different visit itineraries:
- internal path: Nuovo Ribasso mine – from the entrance you proceed walking along the first stretch, which leads to the end of the tunnel where you will find the mineralized strand of barite with its characteristic white color. During the visit you will be able to see the machinery used for the excavation and the different extraction modes. We continue to reach a detour that leads us to a large cave, where barite has been extracted in the last thirty years. Perfectly lit you can visit through the use of ladders that make you climb vertically in the tunnel for a few meters.
The underground path is about 2 km long.
- external path – from the entrance of the mining park you walk on the dirt road that climbs along the side of the Grigna where there are different entrances to the mines. Along the way you can visit the ruins of the Vittoria mine station, then continue and reach the oldest mines, Speranza Inferiore and Speranza Superiore, from which you can admire the deep ravine created after the first open-pit excavations carried out near the outcrops on the surface of the barite.
The external path is about 2.5 km long.
Valsassina is a treasure trove of minerals and the mining industry allowd to create build swords, nails, cannon balls, agricultural tools and small Premana scissors, which have become famous all over the world.
Cover’s image © Miniere Cortabbio di Primaluna
- in December and October every Sunday and holidays
- from mid-July to mid-August also weekday afternoons
- on Saturday just in June, July and August
Tour timetable: 10.30 / 14.30 / 16.00
Full ticket (from 13 years): € 9,50
Reduced (6-12 years): € 6,50
Free under 5 years
How to get to the Mines of Cortabbio
- by car:
– from Milano and Lecco: take S.S.36 (Milan – Lecco) on the third bridge, take the Valsassina exit and continue straight ahead until you reach the Ballabio roundabout. Here turn right along the Provincial Road SP62 and proceed until Cortabbio, where you must take the crossing on the left to the Merla area.
After crossing the Pioverna stream, take the second exit of the roundabout and continue along the dirt road until you reach the Mining Park area.
20 km da Lecco